Help with Stair Treads - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-27-2012, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Help with Stair Treads

Hi all,

I'm new to the forum, but will be using it quite frequently. I'm new to woodworking, so will have lots of questions and will be browsing old posts quite a bit.

I am taking on a project for a good friend of mine. He has completely finished his basement into a bar / social area. The only thing untouched has been the stairs. They are the generic pine stairs that the contractors installed when building the house. He wants me to remove the existing treads ( what you step on), and replace them with oak treads. I will be painting the the rest of the stairway white.

I currently have an abundance of 4/4 white oak. First question, is this suitable enough to work? The new treads I will be making will be 38" x 9". I'd like to make them somewhat fancy, different then a typical bullnose, by running a router on the two sides and the front of the treads. I was thinking of using my 1/8" cove and bead bit. So my second question is, will this look good, and also be functional, without hindering normal stair movement walking up and down?

I looked for pictures, but all I could find was bullnoses, but I'd like to do something different. I'd really like to do a great job on this due to the fact my good friend has clients over all the time, and this could really lead to alot of work from referencing.

Thanks all, and I look forward to working with you all!
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-27-2012, 09:38 PM
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You say you have an abundance of oak? Why don't you do what you said and see how it looks. If you or your friend aren't happy with it you could change it.
Good luck and post pics.

When it's's rustic
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-28-2012, 07:00 AM
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I think unless you put the 4/4 oak over the existing treads or additional framework it will be too thin. Stair treads are thicker. I normally make them 1 1/8" thick and a minimum of 10" wide. If you have enough overhang then it should be fine to run a routed edge on the underneath side of the treads. I wouldn’t round the top edge too much as it will make it easier for someone to slip walking on them.
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-28-2012, 10:29 AM
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Couple questions come to mind, how thick are the original treads, replacing them with thinner treads will cause a variation in the height of the first and last risers, some codes only allow 3/8" difference. 9" wide treads may or may not be acceptable depending on the code in your area.

1" thick oak should be okay, particularly if this is an open stairway with less than a 38" span between stringers. As to the embellishment making up a sample seems like a good idea, I have a hard time imagining using a cove and bead router for this, keep in mind that stairs are natural dirt magnets so it is not a good idea to make anything that will trap the dirt and be hard to clean.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #5 of 6 Old 09-28-2012, 11:43 AM
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I personally would shy away from using ornate profiles on stairs if for no other reason than resaleability. Many people don't like cute and profiles different than normal sometimes fall into this situation.

Most lumber that is referred to as 4/4 dresses out to 3/4" thick which is too thin, code wise for stairs.


Anything is possible IF you don't know what you are talking about.
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-28-2012, 01:04 PM
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It really depends... Out of a nice hardwood like oak 3/4" should be okay. When I was working in Sweden I built nothing but stairs for a solid month out of pine to 3/4". Most stairs have thicker treads, admittedly but it should be okay.

One question, you haven't even mentioned the stringer... Are you literally just replacing the treads? If the stairs are old and wedged getting them out without damaging the rebate for the treads is going to be difficult. If you aren't replacing the string, won't you just have to follow the pre-existing rebate for the pine treads?

Pictures might help if your buddy or you have any. =]
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